October 3, 2023
Help your kids understand the “do’s” and “don’ts” of celebrating Halloween
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (October 3, 2023) – Halloween can be a blast for kids of all ages, and it is a holiday anticipated and enjoyed by many. But if your child has allergies or asthma, they need to be aware of necessary precautions to keep them safe from sudden flares.
“As allergists, we know children want all the fun of Halloween,” says allergist Kathleen May, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “They don’t want to stop and think about hidden allergens that could produce a medical setback, causing festivities to go off track. Parents need to think in advance about what kinds of issues their child with allergies or asthma might encounter, and then communicate to their child how to navigate potential problems safely.”
Below are five tips from ACAAI on how to bring the fun while steering clear of symptoms:
- What’s inside that little treat? – You know your kids can be all about the treats on Halloween, but many of the fun-size candy bars aren’t labeled for allergens. If your child has a food allergy that makes some candy unsafe, take the time to sort through their bags to remove anything suspicious. You might drop off safe candy to trusted neighbors or use your neighborhood social media page to encourage non-food treat options. This will help to ensure your kids are getting pre-approved items. Make sure your child with food allergies has access to two epinephrine auto injectors in case of an accidental exposure along the Halloween route.
- Keep skin free of “frightful” makeup – Some expertly applied makeup can enhance a Halloween costume, but it can also irritate some skin and cause an allergic reaction. If your child suffers from eczema or another allergic skin condition, consider using high-quality hypoallergenic makeup as part of their costume. Test it on a small patch of skin in advance to see if there is a reaction. If your child’s costume contains anything with nickel – think zippers, buttons, earrings, belts or a fake sword – and they have a nickel allergy, make sure a layer of clothing is between them and the nickel. Or ditch the nickel accessories for a different material.
- Steer clear of all forms of smoke – Kids know that smoking cigarettes is bad for your health – but kids with asthma need to be aware that all forms of smoke are unhealthy, including secondhand smoke. Smoke of any kind can trigger an asthma attack, so let your child with asthma know they should avoid smoke machines, bonfires and fireworks. If your child is attending a party where there will be a bonfire, suggest they sit upwind from the fire to avoid the smoke. They should also have access to their rescue inhaler in case they begin to wheeze or feel other asthma symptoms coming on.
- Vaccines can help keep everyone healthy for the fun – Halloween falls at the beginning of flu season, and it is important that everyone avoid the virus. Those who suffer from asthma are among the most vulnerable to effects of the flu and need a flu shot to keep them healthy and out of the hospital. Health care providers often ask those getting flu shots if they are allergic to eggs. Health care providers and people with egg allergy should know there is no need to ask this question anymore, and no need to take any special precautions. Overwhelming evidence has shown that a flu shot poses no greater risk to those with egg allergy than those without.
- Take the emphasis off food – It’s hard to imagine Halloween activities that don’t focus on food, but parties can be fun and spooky and not centered on candy or baked goods. Ideas for food-free happenings can include pumpkin carving, scary movies, ghost stories, haunted houses and treasure hunts. Pinterest and other websites are full of great ideas to help provide the “scare” and also the fun. The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages awareness of food allergies by placing teal pumpkins in front of your house to let trick-or-treaters know you have safe, non-food treats. A teal pumpkin and non-food treats are a clever way to help kids with food allergies join in the trick-or-treating fun.
If you think you or your child might have allergies or asthma, make an appointment with an allergist for proper testing. An allergist can help you take control and live your best life. To locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy, and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter/X.